The French-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt, long held hostage by rebels in her adoptive country, is one of ten candidates being presented to win the Sakharov Prize. Other front-runners include the Belarus opposition leader Alexander Milinkevitch. These, respectively, were nominated by the conservative Christian Democrat EPP and the Socialist group in the European Parliament. The assembly’s third-largest group, the Liberals, proposed the Cambodian Somaly Mam, for her work rescuing women and children in southeast Asia from sexual exploitation. The prestigious award which celebrates freedom of thought has been attributed each year since 1988.
This year the parliament has decided to give the honour to one laureate only. Last year’s went to three; the French organisation ‘Reporters Without Borders’, the Cuban pressure group for political prisoners ‘Women in White’, and Nigerian women’s defence lawyer Hauwa Ibrahim. They divided equally the accompanying 50,000-euro cheque. The winner for 2006 will be designated by the parliament’s political group leaders in December.